Originally posted to The Pink Noise (now The Pink Wreck, now RIP?) in October 2010.
This one goes out to all the people in the house, outside the house (residing without progenitors, enjoying terrestrial delights, released from sanatorium), in transit and sitting still. That covers all of you, by design, for all of you are to share the everted gust-ravaged umbrella of those toward whom I take umbrage, though a mild one to be sure, for identity and otherness is a grand imbroglio due to which I have empathy aplenty. Yes indeed I am not only plugging seminal prog rock but also fingering each reader (embroiled with myself) as a mental case, with perhaps a touch of fingering à la certain library occupant in Sartre’s Nausea.
As an aside and proviso let us dispose of this warmly admirable “insane” label which is so readily embraceable to claimants of quirk of an ilk propagated and -gandized by mass-media entertainment experiences. Self-aware aesthetic preference and irreverence are not what make a person insane; the insanity is within that person’s laissez-faire anaesthetic preference and severance. That upon which I aim to expound linguistically functions to allow a recognition of ignored qualities producing undesirable yet uncomprehended results.
At the same time as we shift back to a definition of insanity which requires critical distance and observant analysis we must also avoid the trap of DSMpathy, this feverish and chilling drive to classify and identify according to all manner of problematic permutation the particular traits we find in our fellow should-be psych patients and our own troubled selves. Psychology is no dismissible trifle but its institutional means of problem solution are risible and stifling. It would be merely procedural to mention the pharmaceutical parade whose consumption assuredly provides relief to many sufferers while even more assuredly is massively overpr(o/e)scribed thus achieving Brobdingnagian profits with the help of the US Congress voting down a 2007 bill to control drug prices for the pill-popping Lilliputians. This treatment by categorization of patient and extended or perhaps eternal diagnostic modification of brain chemistry is missing the point and thereby illustrating the point, the point being the detachment from other people that compounds if not creates these illnesses.
An interestingly logical ironical end result of learning this terminology of apparent rarefied distinction is the necessitation of a term – “medical students’ disease” – to describe the identification of the budding psychologist with the objects of study (“I suppose I too vacillate wildly between incurably delighted and execrably downcast, I too have anxietyfests about the perceived quality of my body type, I too sometimes fight with disparate elements of personality, I too sometimes feel like dissociating completely from the rest of humankind, I too fear tomorrow I’ll be crying”). Because the student does not freak out to some degree in full view of his peers and retains the ability to socialize well enough to avoid mass-consensual alarm he is to take the stance of Analyst towards those who lack the discipline or the desire to suppress the manifestation of their poisoned mental landscapes – even if said suppression and detached analysis result in a societal malaise altogether worse than individual displays.
So to iterate and recapitulate, all readers and writers of this little time-filling important-seeming gasp at humanity are lunatic subjects yet not of any term-cordoned quarantine-worthy type and not of the false and increasingly expectable mismatched-garment-wearing unconventional hobby practitioner type. There is no vitriol or castigation to dispense. The lunacy is not unrecognizable or incurable, for the contrary is urgently true.
The lunacy is concisely the refusal to assume responsibility for an imperfect social reality and just as concision has not been greatly employed in this writing thus far some elaboration shall ensue. We all know that the world on the whole consists of plethoric unpleasantnesses and quite often atrocities, we all know that deceit and esurience rather than fairness and goodwill inhabit the largest governmental offices and corporate boardrooms which delimit the citizen’s life, we all find ourselves at times during our entertainment/information barrage feeling as though we are squandering the potential to do more rewarding things, and still we carry on oblivious yet not oblivious as the awareness of wrongness is inescapable which does not stop us from trying .
What we do is build these tropical destination resorts of mentation where inside everything is bountiful and delightful and taken care of and easy and manageable but every so often as we move from place to place we glimpse the engirding poverty from which we barricade ourselves, see others who are not so much like us and who can’t afford the resort and who have a rougher time of it even though they may be compatriots of equal social status. And the resort is very limited and suffocating and does not encompass enough of the world. It is built of your regularly televised serial dramas, your favorite astronomically paid earthbound game-players, your burgeoning collection of organized sound wave manipulation artworks, your “what do you do”-satisfying remunerated métier – or self-imposed educational restriction chosen to obtain such.
Stern verbal finger oscillations and despondent head shakings are a futility, for how else is one to fit in and feel connected and have conversations with the supernumeraries around who are pursuing the same types of personal definition? I’ve no use for excoriation but in lieu exhortation, simple and open-ended.
We have immensely more power and control over our circumstances than we often believe. Ultimately we are only as beholden to employers and political decisions as we agree to be, and we can quite easily collaborate to make seemingly unpalatable choices for ourselves much more readily embarked upon. This requires relating to people irrespective of external commonalities and ideological compatibilities, for there are many substantial basic progressions to make independent of politically spectral classifications.
Those who yearn for adventure and truth and meaning and justice altogether foreign to routine civilized life can find those essentials best by creating them, and the generation of rollicking stimulating reality need not be confined to playtime and vanishing exploratory days of youth nor to individual larks across the globe. The grandest exhilaration takes hold during profound changes, and so consider the profundity of millions upon billions of people doing that together.
Division of labor is economically efficient but personally confining and particularly so when specialization of tasks and ingroups breeds insularity of thought and experience and conscience. Unconscionable acts should not shock us when our private funnel construction constricts our scope of awareness and leaves domestic and foreign policy and experimentation and epistemology to the self-selected experts who are just as constricted and who end up forgetting and neglecting their subjects, perhaps most noticeably the instantiated Madmen who run riot colorfully ending people’s lives and blowing things up.
A fundamentally different reality follows an orgiastic dissolution of institutional and discretely conceptual structures in the mind and extrinsic to it where it is not merely taxation without representation to revile but also religion and education and psychology and healthcare and criminal justice and philosophy as all these things are to be carried and lived through the self and not outsourced to people-who-know who don’t and fail for just as The Wealth of Nations requires fertile development of their land and the progress of their people does the wealth of self require such diverse utilization of internal resources and internal exchange just as the wealth of the globe and the species and the stardust experience requires the breakdown of false trade constraints known as borders yet without allowing the unscrupulously self-interested merchants to set policy (so says Smith) and making art and beauty everywhere and learning for free everything and everything and making your own sense not buying pundit sense and traveling and helping and befriending and working at jobs that matter all of which is evidently no birthright but worth fighting to midwife so PUSH PUSH BREATHE THAT’S IT JUST BREATHE KEEP PUSHING Oh my God it’s a beautiful….
And what a sigh of relief then. And what a life then.